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  • Let's go Yankees!

    Series to date:
    Attached Files
    WORLD CHAMPIONS!

    1923 • 1927 • 1928 • 1932 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1941 • 1943

    1947 • 1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1956 • 1958 • 1961 • 1962


    1977 • 1978 • 1996 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2009

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    • It Couldn't Get Better Than 1978 - Thrilling playoff perfectly capped stunning season

      By Bob Herzog
      STAFF WRITER

      August 29, 2003

      For five months, the 1978 baseball season sizzled like a lit fuse, burning with intensity until the timer was tripped at Fenway Park in Boston on Sept. 7. That's when the real Yankee fireworks began.

      Today, the Red Sox will try to create some history of their own as they start a three-game series with the Yankees.

      Twenty-five years ago, the Yankees began a four-day offensive display so awesome that it still lives in infamy in New England lore. Say the words Boston Massacre on any street from Cambridge to the Cape and not many people will mistake the reference for the prelude to the Revolutionary War.

      "Everyone looked at that series as an opportunity to get back into the race," Willie Randolph, the Yankees' second baseman in 1978, recalled of a set of circumstances so symmetrical they seemed predetermined: First-place Boston led the second-place Yankees by four games entering a four-game series at Fenway. "The guys were embarrassed by how we had played up to that point and this was an opportunity we could not pass up."

      The embarrassment was derived from another set of circumstances that was anything but symmetrical. "Dysfunctional" doesn't begin to describe what went on that season.

      Cantankerous, heavy-drinking manager Billy Martin called slugger Reggie Jackson a liar and referred to owner George Steinbrenner as convicted ... in the same sentence. He was forced to resign the next day, but a few days later, Martin was introduced to the Stadium crowd on Oldtimers Day as the Yankees' manager for two seasons hence.

      Jackson defied Martin's orders that season by bunting with two strikes, earning a five-game suspension. Reliever Sparky Lyle, the Cy Young winner in 1977, repeatedly asked to be traded after being demoted to the setup role by the acquisition of free agent Rich Gossage. There were clubhouse cliques with open disdain for one another. No wonder the players welcomed a late-summer newspaper strike that ceased publication of the Times, Daily News and Post.

      "It got really, really quiet around here [without so many reporters] and that really helped us," Randolph said. "For the first time all year, we could come to the ballpark and just focus on the game."

      Such was the tattered state of the Yankees in mid-summer that on July 18 they trailed the Red Sox by 14 games. A couple of days later, Steinbrenner ripped his team in a memorable pregame clubhouse address.

      Jackson said it is what he remembers most from all that transpired in that bizarre season. "George came into the clubhouse and said, 'I'm going to back up the truck and get rid of all of you guys, everybody, if we don't get it turned around,' " Jackson recalled. "It was an unbelievable tirade. Whether that motivated us or not, I don't know. I think it made us mad. George yelled at us. Told us we were terrible, that he was going to break up the club and that nobody was above being traded."

      It became clear that with all the Yankees' inner turmoil, some key injuries and the fact that the Red Sox were 51-19 after 70 games, it was going to take a miracle to accomplish their goal of successfully defending their 1977 world championship. But the Yankees flourished under Martin's replacement, Bob Lemon, and his laid-back style. "I think when Lemon came in and brought that calm hand, he basically said, 'I'm not going to do anything. I'm just going to let them play and sit here and watch,' " Jackson said.

      "Lemon was the guy," Randolph said. "He didn't even know the names of the guys. He'd just call everyone 'Meat.' 'Hey, Meat, how you doing? Way to go, Meat.' We just went out and played our game. That was very instrumental in us getting a nice little focus, a little groove leading up to the Boston Massacre."

      By the time they arrived at Fenway Park for that fateful four-game series, the Yankees had demonstrated that they not only believed in miracles, they believed in each other. "Boston was playing tremendous baseball. All we were trying to do was keep track of how many games we had left against them," said Chris Chambliss, the Yankees' first baseman in 1978. "There were a lot of them after July, when we were 14 games out. [Nine of the 15 scheduled games with Boston were played in August and September.] We were counting the games left against them because we felt that's how we could make up ground. We had that kind of confidence."

      The Yankees won 12 of 16 from mid-July to early August to trim the lead to seven, but they lost both games in New York to the Red Sox, blowing a big chance to gain additional ground.

      Still, Boston heard footsteps. "I don't think that we were ever 14 games better than the Yankees. We just got on a hot streak [early] and they were playing poorly," said Don Zimmer, the Boston manager in 1978. "I knew they were better than that. I don't think the club I had was ever overconfident to where they thought they had something won. I don't think anybody - especially when it's the Yankees chasing you - thought it was over."

      The Yankees finally caught the Sox in stunning fashion in the Boston Massacre. The game scores were 15-3, 13-2, 7-0 and 7-4. That's four wins, 42 runs and 67 hits for the Yankees; zero wins, nine runs and 21 hits for Boston. With 20 games left, both teams were 86-56.

      "What do good teams do when they've got their backs up against the wall?" Randolph said. "They come out fighting. We just kept attacking, attacking. We were very relentless. That was a proud group of guys, very professional, guys who really wanted to defend their championship. We took it personally; we had a chip on our shoulders, and until someone knocked it off, we weren't going to give it up."

      Lou Piniella, the Yankees' rightfielder/DH in '78, still beams at the memory of a mission accomplished. "You fall behind 14 ballgames and a lot of teams would have packed it in. Well, this team didn't. It had confidence in itself," Piniella said. "It was a special group of players. A team that in the clubhouse didn't always get along so well, but when the umpire said 'Play ball,' played awfully well on the field. For us to be world champions, we had to beat Boston five straight times in their own ballpark [counting the playoff game], and that's exactly what happened."

      The sweep stunned the Sox. "How can a team get 30-something games over .500 in July, then in September see its pitching, hitting and fielding all fall apart at the same time?" Boston catcher Carlton Fisk wondered.

      NBC announcer Tony Kubek wryly commented during the series, "This is the first time I've seen a first-place team chasing a second-place team." And Newsday columnist Joe Gergen wrote after the third game, "The Yankees are a game behind and drawing away."

      But after the laughter subsided, the Red Sox turned serious. Though they lost two out of three in New York the following weekend, they did not surrender. "Everybody said the Red Sox choked, but I hate that word in sports," Zimmer said. "You hear it all the time. When the Yankees went ahead by 3½ games, a lot of people said, 'The Red Sox are gone.' It looked pretty bad, no doubt about it. Then we started playing well again and we came back. The last eight games were phenomenal. They had a one-game lead on us. Every day we had to win 'cause they would win. Then finally on the last day, Rick Waits [of Cleveland] beat them and we won [behind Luis Tiant] and wound up in the one-game playoff."

      The Red Sox had survived a massacre, but they were doomed to experience further torment. The one-game playoff on Oct. 2 at Fenway Park matched two teams with 99-63 records but with far different heritages. The Bucky Dent Game, as those same fans from Cambridge to the Cape refer to the Yankees' 5-4 division-clinching victory with loathing and despair, simply followed the path of history of the two teams since Babe Ruth was traded from Boston to New York before the 1920 season. The Red Sox come close; the Yankees prevail in the end.

      "A guy steps up and hits the game-winning home run, the odds were probably a thousand to one that he'd do that," Lyle said of light-hitting teammate Dent. "But that's what the Yankees were about. Somebody always found a way."

      Lyle offered a fascinating take on the Yankees-Red Sox playoff game: He said the Yankees welcomed, not feared, a tie after 162 games. "Even when we saw we were going to catch them, everybody on that team wanted that one-game playoff," Lyle said. "Well, I can't speak for every guy, but a lot of them just felt that this would not be the way to finish that season, by either of us winning by a game and knocking the other one out of there. The one-game playoff was really the culmination; it was the best thing that could have happened that year. Settle the damn thing once and for all."

      Twenty-five years later, Red Sox Nation still has a score to settle.

      Where They Stood

      1978 American League East standings after games of July 18:

      Team W L Avg. GB

      Boston 62 28 .688 --- Milwaukee 53 37 .589 9

      Baltimore 51 42 .548 12½

      Yankees 48 42 .533 14

      1978 AL East standings after games of Oct. 1:

      Yankees 99 63 .611 --- Boston 99 63 .611 --- Milwaukee 93 69 .574 6

      Baltimore 90 71 .559 8½
      Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.
      Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting. 2007-11 CBA
      Rest very peacefully, John “Buck” O'Neil (1911-2006) & Philip Francis “Scooter” Rizzuto (1917-2007)
      THE BROOKLYN DODGERS - 1890 thru 1957
      Montreal Expos 1969 - 2004

      Comment


      • Are the BoSux cheating?

        from ESPN.com
        Stealing signs? That's 'RIDICULOUS'
        If the Sox weren't laughing after the four-game sweep of the Mariners, they are now. The Mariners on Aug. 25 implied the Sox had stolen signs at Fenway Park over the weekend, the Boston Herald reported Aug. 27. "That's ridiculous," Kevin Millar told the Herald. "Put it in big, bold letters: RIDICULOUS. Give credit where credit is due and admit you're facing a good offensive team." According to the Herald, one Sox executive laughed at the quotes and said: "Good, it means we're in their heads and that will only help us if we see them in the first round (of the playoffs)."
        I don't believe they are... but I'll be watching them closely...
        WORLD CHAMPIONS!

        1923 • 1927 • 1928 • 1932 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1941 • 1943

        1947 • 1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1956 • 1958 • 1961 • 1962


        1977 • 1978 • 1996 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2009

        Comment


        • #[email protected]%&*%!

          You don't have to steal the signs if our pitcher can't find the strike zone!
          WORLD CHAMPIONS!

          1923 • 1927 • 1928 • 1932 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1941 • 1943

          1947 • 1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1956 • 1958 • 1961 • 1962


          1977 • 1978 • 1996 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2009

          Comment


          • Attached Files
            Ken Fougère

            Comment


            • Oh yeah...?!
              Here's one!
              Attached Files
              WORLD CHAMPIONS!

              1923 • 1927 • 1928 • 1932 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1941 • 1943

              1947 • 1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1956 • 1958 • 1961 • 1962


              1977 • 1978 • 1996 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2009

              Comment


              • Since BoSux fans probably don't read the NY Daily News, thought I'd post this article...
                These Sox not laboring over curse
                By ROGER RUBIN
                DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER


                BOSTON - Yankees fans have heard this all before. The Red Sox mount an August threat and there comes a collective cry from the North: "This year things will different." Meanwhile the tally over the past 84 years has grown to 26 World Series titles for the Yanks and none for the Sox.
                But what if this year is different?

                Certainly this edition of the Red Sox is unlike any of the recent ones. Their nonchalance regarding this weekend's series with the Yanks says they are loose. Their penchant for making comebacks says they are resilient. And their insistence that the playoff picture won't be clear until the season's final week says their resolve is steely.

                "We're right in it and we're going now, playing good ball," said first baseman Kevin Millar. "We're prepared for this to go right to the last weekend of the season.

                "We're done worrying about the other teams. We're just going to worry about ourselves. We win games, the rest takes care of itself. Division or wild card, it doesn't make a difference."

                Eight days ago, the Sox went through the type of crisis that might have sent them sliding in other years. The bullpen blew two late-game leads against Oakland in devastating losses. Those put the Sox 71/2 games behind the Yanks in the AL East and twogames back of the A's for the wild card. Pessimism, fueled by the history of late season failures, mounted outside the clubhouse.

                But not inside. The Red Sox responded by reeling off six wins in seven games including a four-game sweep of the Mariners and Wednesday night's toppling of Toronto and Cy Young favorite Roy Halladay. "It's a good clubhouse with no quit in it," Millar said.

                They're 4-1/2 games back of the Yanks. They're even with the Mariners for the wild card. And they're rolling.

                "We could ask for better (circumstances), but we're not going to get that now," manager Grady Little said. "We have stepped up all season when the schedule got a little tough on us and the competition got a little tough and I look for that to happen again . . . but we know nothing is going to come easy."

                "A lot of the players on this team are the same as last year, but there is a different feeling in here," center fielder Johnny Damon says. "There is a greater feeling of self-confidence. We don't let losing a game or two take hold of us."

                Boston's 45 home wins lead the AL and its .291 team batting average is 11 points better than second-place Toronto. Plus the Sox are getting career years from plenty of players.

                Jason Varitek has career highs in home runs (22) and RBI (79); Bill Mueller is second in the AL in average (.327) and has career highs in home runs (16) and RBI (67); Millar has a career best in home runs (22); and David Ortiz has bests in home runs (21) and RBI (75).

                In addition to the self-confidence, Damon said fatigue won't be the stretch-drive factor it was in last year's fade from contention. The weak bench of Tony Clark, Rickey Henderson, Carlos Baerga and Jose Offerman forced Little to overwork position players. But Little uses Ortiz, Damian Jackson, David McCarty and Gabe Kapler often.

                "Not being tired can make a huge difference at this time of year," Damon said.

                But perhaps the biggest thing the Sox have going for them is a new attitude, especially about the Yankees. In years past, the club might be hanging all its hopes on a series like the one starting tonight and a shot to maybe get within a half-game by Labor Day.

                "When we start thinking a game against the Yankees is more important than any other game, that's when we get into trouble," Ortiz said. "We win because we play loose and thinking like that stops you from playing loose."
                Is this the year?
                Naaah.
                WORLD CHAMPIONS!

                1923 • 1927 • 1928 • 1932 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1941 • 1943

                1947 • 1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1956 • 1958 • 1961 • 1962


                1977 • 1978 • 1996 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2009

                Comment


                • Buy a calendar.....

                  Originally posted by YankeeMan
                  Oh yeah...?!
                  Here's one!



                  C U R R E N T !


                  C U R R E N T !


                  C U R R E N T !



                  --------------- 2 0 0 3 ---------------


                  {Have your parents write it down for you...}
                  Ken Fougère

                  Comment


                  • Code:
                    
                    
                                      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R   H   E 
                     
                    Yankees          2 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0   5   5   0
                    
                    Boston           3 0 0 4 1 2 0 0     10 14   0 
                     
                     
                    
                    
                    Ken Fougère

                    Comment


                    • Nineteen-eighteen

                      The BoSux streak of futility is still current!
                      WORLD CHAMPIONS!

                      1923 • 1927 • 1928 • 1932 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1941 • 1943

                      1947 • 1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1956 • 1958 • 1961 • 1962


                      1977 • 1978 • 1996 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2009

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by YankeeMan
                        Since BoSux fans probably don't read the NY Daily News, thought I'd post this article...


                        Is this the year?
                        Naaah.

                        Just for you to mention this.....

                        Speaks volumes . . .
                        Ken Fougère

                        Comment


                        • Re: Nineteen-eighteen

                          Originally posted by YankeeMan
                          The BoSux streak of futility is still current!
                          October 1, 1978
                          is not 'current' for most of us . . .
                          Ken Fougère

                          Comment


                          • Nineteen-eighteen

                            Funny, I don't remember the BoSux winning the World Series?

                            So the streak is still current.

                            It's just a matter of "how are they gonna choke this time?"
                            WORLD CHAMPIONS!

                            1923 • 1927 • 1928 • 1932 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1941 • 1943

                            1947 • 1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1956 • 1958 • 1961 • 1962


                            1977 • 1978 • 1996 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2009

                            Comment


                            • Re: Nineteen-eighteen

                              Originally posted by YankeeMan
                              Funny, I don't remember the BoSux winning the World Series?

                              So the streak is still current.

                              It's just a matter of "how are they gonna choke this time?"
                              We weren't the team who coughed up a fur ball tonight!
                              Ken Fougère

                              Comment


                              • Nineteen-eighteen

                                Originally posted by KenFougere
                                We weren't the team who coughed up a fur ball tonight!
                                Nor are you in first place.
                                WORLD CHAMPIONS!

                                1923 • 1927 • 1928 • 1932 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939 • 1941 • 1943

                                1947 • 1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1956 • 1958 • 1961 • 1962


                                1977 • 1978 • 1996 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2009

                                Comment

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